US bird flu, trump card in Russian WTO negotiations
Russia, the world's largest poultry importer, may halt its imports
from the US state of Michigan, because a mild strain of avian influenza was
discovered there last week. The bird flu case is likely to give Russia a new
trump card in negotiations between the two nations about Russia's World Trade
The Russian Federal Veterinary Service will tighten controls over US poultry
supplies while it waits for an official avian
influenza report from the United States, according to Alexei Alexeyenko, the
veterinary service's press secretary.
The two Michigan birds found to be
infected with avian influenza do not have the lethal form that is spreading
elsewhere in the world, according to US officials.
Russia has also threatened to tighten import barriers on US meat unless an
agreement is reached about Russia joining the WTO by October. Unless Russia's joining the WTO is
agreed, Russia will cancel the existing preferences accorded to US in meat and
poultry supplies, which could result in US poultry exports to Russia being cut
The two countries were expected to sign the final protocol on the eve of the
G8 summit, which took place in St Petersburg in the middle of July. But at the
last moment the sides failed to reach an agreement on meat and poultry exports.
The United States demanded that the exports be allowed freely, without any
additional examinations by the Russian veterinary authorities. The Russian side
insisted that special veterinary commissions have to check the US producers that
want to export their products to Russia before they are given the green
In 2005, the US exported 742,390 tons of poultry to Russia worth around $600
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